Defense is Back in a Big (Good) Way

I’m creating this thread in response to this thread which was made during build season. I’ll ask the same question that was asked then, now that we have seen a full week of Stronghold: Is anybody worried about defense ruining the game? I for one am not.

I just got done volunteering at the Duluth double regional. There wasn’t a single robot out of the 123 robots at the 2 events that was built specifically to play defense. There wasn’t more than a hand-full of quals matches where defense was played on the Lake Superior side. Defense most definitely didn’t ruin the matches; it made them so much more exciting.

Here is a video from Qual 78 on Lake Superior. Team 359, arguably the best offensive team at the event, and 6175, the 3rd robot on the winning alliance with 359, went up against 4607 playing defense. It could be that I’m biased, but I thought a team running interference made things so much more exciting.

Here is another example in Qual 61 with 4607 against 4009, the number 1 alliance captain, and 1816 a second round pick. A defensive team can’t prevent breaching effectively, only boulders scored. So quals essentially go uninterrupted because Captures are so rare anyways. Defense really only comes into play when you get to the playoffs and everybody is breaching, and everybody has the potential to capture.

Defense is also the best way for a lower ranked alliance to beat the top alliances. On Lake Superior the 2 Seed vs. 7 Seed matches were incredibly close. Barring a cable snap, the 7 seed walks away with the win. They weakened the tower twice but didn’t capture which would’ve won it. There’s no way a lower seeded alliance can out-cycle the top teams at an event with similar depth. The only way to win is with defense.

So is defense a good or a bad thing for Stronghold? Post videos of great defensive performances along with your opinion.

There was a great semifinal match between alliances 4 and 1 at Kettering for just this. Previously, 1 had put up over 150 points in a match, but then got completely shut down once 4 applied killer defense, and still put up 130 points. It doesn’t look like the match video is up just yet, but if you can find it I highly recommend giving it a look.

You guys had us… the defense was straight up ruining our boulder cycles. We had to tell 2227 to play counter defense cause you guys were so disruptive… It was a great quarterfinals and I was sad to see you guys get knocked out so early.

But back to the point, I agree with you that defense will not ruin the game. Great defense will result in tons of upsets and 2nd seed vs 7th seed at lake superior was nearly one.

I wish we could of seen a match of 1st seed vs 7th seed to see the results there at Lake Superior. Would of been interesting to see the results.

I would say that as of Week 1, the game is in a very healthy state with regards to defense. Teams are rewarded for playing defense, but they sacrifice just as much by choosing not to play offensively and score.

I was watching the GTC regional, and I saw a robot specifically designed to play defense in the form of Team 5092. They were a very tall robot with wide blockers, allowing them to shut down and delay teams trying to shoot. In fact, I think that they single-handedly caused teams to focus on low goaling if they weren’t already, because their defense was so strong. However, I believe that 5092, while playing defense, suffered in ranking because they chose not to contribute to the alliance’s score directly.

I’m still worried defense will lead to too many fouls, which really decrease the excitement of a game. Worse yet, I fear refs have too many things to watch and keep track of, resulting in inconsistently enforcement.

I haven’t watched a ton of matches, but 2443 was probably the best defender I’ve seen so far.

Watch the PNW West Valley district finals. 4495 (top seeded backup) was a defense bot and replaced 4082(?) for the semis/finals and beat 5920/4061/4120 (1st seeded alliance) in the finals because of 4495s defense. It was amazing to watch


In my opinion, the rules of this years game makes defense extremely impractical unless you have a robot that cannot do anything else but drive and you’re up against a skilled shooter. There are just too many ways to get penalized for touching someone at just the wrong time/place on the field.

San Diego was fierce (in eliminations) with multiple (four) non-defense bots playing very aggressive defense and knocking many (a dozen or so) HG shots wide not by blocking but by ramming corners as hard as possible. We even mixed it up as a defensive bot when our shooter jammed as a low bot.

I think what will happen is exactly what I saw in San Diego, teams will look for “Hybrid hidden defenders” instead of “Specific defenders” as they are equally effective and can “do more” for your scoring. As re-purposed bots even without a cheescake just because they had a speedy drive train and mass

Teams that only do one thing are toast

Outerworks shooters suddenly become more important.

bumping a robot shooting into the low goal is a very effective way of slowing the cycle time down.

Yep. If your robot has to get close to the batter to shoot, a good defensive bot can just circle around the batter (in a ring like pattern) and just harass the team from getting a low goal or a close high goal. Outerworks will be very important this year.

I saw only one Outer works shooter in SD and they were off target I never saw a shot go in. There was another able to hit from 2/3 back but did it rarely.

THat doesn’t mean the concept is bad it just means that the execution is bad.

I agree the most efficient play is a cross and a protected shot into HG …rinse repeat 15 point play and dual bonus damage toward two more RP’s.

But in reality not sure the “efficiency” will be there 179 missed shots in week 0.5 and had a great shooter up close…in San Diego Agency was one of the most efficient shooters and missed up close a lot too. Both when not being harassed. Same for WARlords. Its hard to hit that HG and not waste time on missed shots. Lucky for the Agency (after declining to be #1’s pick) they found two other fairly consistent boulder bots and all could cross defenses at least one would be not defended. They simply outscored everyone, many were LG

I cannot see being even further back making HG’s more likely in fact it may just be a longer time waster IMO after watching a live regional.

Team 359 was the only once able to do it from the outerworks here and there at lake superior. I think 4009 did it sometimes. We may have done it once or twice, but we were inconsistent.

In the finals matches of Auburn Mountainview there was some really good defense being played by team 3786 in finals matches 1 and 2.

Our choice to shoot from the outer works was in anticipation of defense. Once we got our intake working Saturday, we were in the region of 25% shooting accuracy from the outer works (with a camera and ~zero practise). Even if your shooter shoots exactly straight with the proper trajectory every time, it’s very, very tough to line up your yaw (side-to-side) manually.

They were really consistent towards the middle of the event. In playoffs they were off though.

At Southfield on Friday, we were having various problems that were causing us to miss shots (bottom prong on our shooter being bent, camera being knocked out of alignment from going over the defenses) or not take them at all, but after the last match on Friday, we fixed all the problems on our shooter, and Saturday, 100% of our outer works shots went into the goal, although two bounced out the side in QF 1-1. I was driving so I didnt see if they did it in a match, but I saw 3322 could shoot from (what was around the distance of) the outer works also on the practice field. 2960 and 548 both scored high goals too, but from close to the batter to on the batter, respectively.

The point I’m getting at is that high goal shooters from the outer works are rare. It just depends on the event how many there are. I expect more teams to score in the high goal as the season goes on, in order to stay competitive and raise the score.

The way I see it from strategy perspective…an accurate HG outer work shooter could be awesome but its very hard to do…much harder than 42 point HP stackers of last year…hence the rarity.

We know the pitfalls of visual processing that is why we attempted zero HG shots even though we “can” but we really need the auto aiming. We could technically hit 16 feet every time as we did over and over in practice at home 100%… but not having auto aim is not worth it.

Some teams will figure it out. We will try again next week to get auto aim going.For us its mainly a camera placement issue(with unobstructed vision of the goal) on a low bot with not many great places to put the camera where it won’t get destroyed or make us too tall. We don’t need it to compete to win but sure would be nice…if we make it to WC we’ll figure it out.

Another question that I’ve been thinking about: Can a defensive robot be a first round pick? An early first round pick? Usually the alliance captain will be good at breaching, and in deeper events, the alliance captains will be good at breaching and scoring. There are a ton of teams that can breach effectively that could be picked up in round 2. So if there’s an elite defender on the board are they worth a top pick? Let’s assume this defender can climb and play spot offense (not highly effectively) as well.

I would say yes because an elite defender can prevent a capture, and a capture can be done by an elite robot being fed by a breaching 2nd pick. If you capture, and prevent a capture, you basically win.